The Dresser Diamond welcomed back the Cardinals for another spring of baseball last week, and after a short post-spring break skid, the team is well on its way to a successful season.
Before starting their home season, the team traveled to Rhode Island to face Endicott College. Endicott went up 7-0 in the fourth inning following a grand slam from Michael DeDonato. Wesleyan responded quickly, scoring the next four runs of the game, capped by a solo home run from Tanner Fulkerson ’20, the first homer of his career. However, this power hitting was not enough to make up the Cardinals’ seven-run deficit, and the Cards fell to Endicott 7-4.
The next day, the team played a doubleheader against the Roger Williams University Hawks in their home opener. Again, Wes fell behind early, as the Hawks scored the first five runs of the game in the second and third innings. Wes put their first run on the board in the third inning and had productive fourth and fifth innings to cut the Hawks lead to 7-6. Yet the teams only had time to play two more innings in the first half of their doubleheader, cutting the game short and ending the Cardinals’ hopes of a comeback. By the time the clock ran down, Roger Williams claimed a 7-6 victory.
Later that afternoon, Wesleyan rebounded dramatically and ended their three-game skid with a commanding 8-2 win against the Hawks. The team carried their momentum from the end of their first game with them and recorded five runs in the first inning of the second game. First, with bases loaded, Matt Jeye ’18 hit a double to left-center which scored two. Then, Fulkerson hit an RBI groundout to second, and Jeye stole home to make the score 4-0. Before the Hawks could record their third out, Kevin Walek ’20 hit an RBI single to center, setting the Cards up for their first home win of the season.
First-year pitcher Kelvin Sosa had a fantastic home debut, allowing one earned run on five hits in just over six innings, recording eight strikeouts. After Sosa left the game, Roger Williams scored once more in the seventh inning, but Wesleyan’s victory was clear.
Ryan Earle ’19, who was named NESCAC Pitcher of the Week last month, knew that his team had the power to turn around their brief losing streak.
“We had been allowing teams to get big innings on us and we were hurting ourselves,” Earl said. “Our biggest opponent during those three losses was us. But like after any loss, we have to regroup and get back after it each and every day. We know what we are capable of, and it was up to us to find that again.”
They clearly found the key to winning this past weekend, as they built up their winning streak when the Middlebury Panthers came to Middletown for Wesleyan’s first conference games of the season. The Cards had a perfect weekend, sweeping the Panthers 3-0, including a no-hitter on Saturday morning to wake us all up out of our post-brunch stupor.
Juniors Mike McCaffrey and Pat Clare worked together to record the Cardinals’ first no-hitter since 1981, as McCaffrey recorded his second win of the season, and Clare his first save. McCaffrey recorded 10 strikeouts over his six innings pitched, and Clare finished the game for the Cards, retiring the only three batters he faced that day in succession.
The Middlebury pitching staff also had an impressive day, as starting pitcher Colby Morris recorded eight strikeouts, and only two walks and one earned run. Unfortunately for Morris, the run was all the Cardinals needed to win the first game of the series.
The next game featured a lot more offensive action from the start, as the Cards claimed a six-run second inning. Sosa again showed off his talents on the mound, holding the Panthers to two hits and no earned runs, striking out 11 batters in his 6.2 innings pitched.
Sosa attributes his early success to the support of his teammates.
“It hasn’t been hard adjusting to collegiate baseball at Wes,” he said. “The upperclassmen are awesome. They will never hesitate to teach me any sort of plays that our coaches would construct in order to outcompete our opponents.”
The Panthers woke up in the seventh inning, challenging the 9-0 lead Wesleyan built up with a four-run inning of their own. Wes responded with three more runs, giving them a 12-4 lead heading into the ninth. Then, Middlebury gave everyone a scare with a four-run comeback attempt in the ninth that was cut short in a fly out to right field. The Panthers again just fell short of Wesleyan’s bats.
Middlebury may have been hoping that the adage “third time’s the charm” applied to baseball, but they were not so lucky. Again, the Cards built a commanding lead from the start, scoring seven runs in the first inning off of two hits and seven walks. Middlebury’s struggles on the mound continued throughout the game, only recording one strikeout throughout the game among their four pitchers, and allowing nine walks. Though Middlebury went on to score six runs, they could not catch the Cardinals, who went on to win 10-6.
After their play this weekend, Wesleyan is currently ranked first in the NESCAC West Division. They’ll look to prove their dominance against another NESCAC foe, Hamilton, next weekend, but not before facing Salve Regina College this afternoon and the Coast Guard Academy tomorrow. Both games are set to start at four o’clock; Foss will be waiting for you.
Rose Griffin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.